U.S. 23/441 construction on Cowee

Orange barrels will continue to be a familiar sight on U.S. 23/441 over Cowee Mountain as stabilization work continues.

Traffic will remain in its current pattern on U.S. 23/441 over Cowee Mountain the next year while construction crews perform a major operation to stop the top of the mountain from moving.

N.C. Department of Transportation officials have awarded a contract to WNC Paving to complete major repairs on the road on the Jackson County side of Cowee Mountain.

Crews from WNC Paving will shift into the second major phase of repairs that will stabilize the hillside and return the highway to its four-lane formation. This $6 million project is intended to prevent additional settling of the highway between Pumpkintown Road and Victory Church Road.

“A section of U.S. 441 has been settling since it was constructed and minor repairs have been made several times over the years,” Division 14 Construction Engineer Ted Adams said. “We determined it best to rip off the Band-Aids and make the necessary long-term repairs.”

Geotechnical engineers analyzed the area last summer and helped develop a two-phase plan ending with a permanent solution. The first phase included significant drainage repairs, and excavating from under the two northbound lanes before crews built a new wall to stabilize the southbound lanes.

WNC Paving crews have started moving equipment to the work site and may begin work as early as this week. As part of the second phase, they will rebuild the failed road slope by placing shot-rock as a foundation and build up to a new surface with fresh paint and shiny guardrail. The contract completion date is Aug. 1, 2021.

“Our statewide financial crunch has pushed this work back a few months, so we are excited to get it started,” Adams said. “This is a long, slow, tedious sort of project, and the repair is one that will last for decades.”

Transportation officials remind drivers to slow down in the work zone, obey all posted signs and merge into one lane as soon as possible.

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